Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. IV. The Higher Life
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume IV. The Higher Life.  1904.
VI. Human Experience
Losse in Delayes
Robert Southwell (c. 1561–1595)
SHUN delayes, they breed remorse,
Take thy time while time doth serve thee,
Creeping snayles have weakest force,
Flie their fault, lest thou repent thee.
    Good is best when soonest wrought,        5
    Lingering labours come to nought.
Hoyse up sayle while gale doth last,
Tide and winde stay no man’s pleasure;
Seek not time when time is past,
Sober speede is wisdome’s leasure.        10
    After-wits are dearely bought,
    Let thy fore-wit guide thy thought.
Time weares all his locks before,
Take thou hold upon his forehead;
When he flies, he turnes no more,        15
And behind his scalpe is naked.
    Workes adjourned have many stayes,
    Long demurres breed new delayes.
Seeke thy salve while sore is greene,
Festered wounds aske deeper launcing;        20
After-cures are seldome seene,
Often sought, scarce ever chancing.
    Time and place gives best advice,
    Out of season, out of price.
Crush the serpent in the head,        25
Breake ill eggs ere they be hatchèd:
Kill bad chickens in the tread;
Fledged, they hardly can be catchèd:
    In the rising stifle ill,
    Lest it grow against thy will.        30
Drops do pierce the stubborn flint,
Not by force, but often falling;
Custome kills with feeble dint,
More by use than strength prevailing:
    Single sands have little weight,        35
    Many make a drowning freight.
Tender twigs are bent with ease,
Agèd trees do breake with bending;
Young desires make little prease,
Growth doth make them past amending.        40
    Happie man that soon doth knocke,
    Babel’s babes against the rocke.

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